How to completely disconnect over the Thanksgiving weekend and why it’s a great idea

Look up from your phone! Those who are overly tech-reliant can sometimes seem out of touch in person. And lest you think you’re the only one, you aren’t.

Along with resisting the urge to over-indulge over Thanksgiving will also be the added challenge of trying your best not to tune out your family by obsessively checking your phone.

According to a study last year by technology services company Asurion, Americans check their phones about once every 12 minutes- or 80 times a day. But wait, it gets worse. Many people are ruder than ever.

In a November 2018 study on cell phone etiquette, Asurion found that most people are sorely lacking in basic conversation etiquette, with about 45% admitting to talking, texting or checking their phones in a public bathroom. Added to that, nearly 60% of adults admit to pulling out their phones at the table while out eating or drinking with others. Of those, 75% said their table companions didn’t mind. But we should mind. Here’s why. Conversation is a lost art. People seem to be having a harder time connecting in person, and it shows.

If you’ve ever struggled to answer a question during an interview or even to make small talk with a stranger, you’re not alone. MIT professor Sherry Turkle, author of the bestselling book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in the Digital Age has written about how our reliance on technology has impacted, if not harmed, our ability to empathize. Like smokers who smell of nicotine even without a cigarette in hand, those who are overly tech-reliant can sometimes seem out of touch in person.

And lest you think you’re the only one, you aren’t. The weekend before Thanksgiving, Not a Cellphone in Sight was trending on Twitter along with wistful or hilarious memes.

Convinced you should at least try to take a longer tech break? Try this:

  1. Don’t do it alone: There’s nothing worse than trying to make a huge change in your life only to find everyone else in your orbit still committed to your former bad habit. Ask your family or spouse or friends to go tech-free along with you, even just for a single meal. And then feel free to mock each other mercilessly as you start to twitch and cringe and desperately miss your phones.
  2. Create a backup plan (or person): Decide in advance how much time you plan on being off-line or away from your tech toys. Create an autoresponder and don’t include an emergency contact number unless it can’t be avoided. If you have a co-worker who will be working over the holiday weekend, consider having all your urgent issues diverted.
  3. Treat yo self: Do you love jigsaw puzzles? Or maybe you’re an avid home cook with no time to indulge. Find something you love but have been neglecting, and indulge over the holiday weekend. You’d be amazed at just how much creative time you can find if you’re not constantly checking for email.

And it isn’t just giving something up. You’ll gain not just time to recharge and have fun, but long-term benefits.

Your anxiety level might drop: Berkley News reports that “Extreme angst is on the rise nationally and globally, especially among teens and millennials. Among other factors, preliminary findings from UC Berkeley sleep researchers point to a chronic lack of deep restorative sleep.”

The study also presents a link between sleep and anxiety. UC Berkeley neuroscientists Matthew Walker and Eti Ben Simon report that non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep “plays a key role in calming the overactive brain, especially in the brain regions that process and regulate emotions.” Ben Simon said, “The more time you spend in deep non-REM sleep, the less anxious you are in the morning.”

So, at the very least silencing your phone, or choosing to leave it in the next room overnight means chances are good you’ll sleep better and wake up less anxious. Can’t ignore your phone entirely? Consider changing your settings so only your closest relatives’ calls come through in case of emerg

Rachel Weingarten|is a marketing & brand strategist and president of 729.marketing